One of the ways I work to help other teachers have success in STEM Education is by working as a consultant and designer. Part of that work involves giving talks on various aspects of STEM, which allows me to meet a lot of different teachers. One of the things I’ve noticed (and it makes me absolutely crazy!) is that teachers fight to buy technology they have no plan for. Often the result is either a piece of dusty tech sitting in a closet, or a piece of tech that is not being used to it’s full potential. What a waste of time and money! Before you spend dime one on any new “product” you should have a good idea about how it will fit into your curriculum.
My biggest, dirtiest educational sin is that when I first started out in education I was guilty of the same mindset that I now rail against. I thought that the silver bullet to giving my students the most enriching, engaging, learning experience possible was to have the fanciest new technology money could buy. Dear reader, I beg your forgiveness. I also hope that you can learn from my mistakes as opposed to your own (it’s much cheaper, and less embarrassing that way).
In my first job as a STEM educator I got incredibly lucky. I was given a comparatively large budget to get my program up and running, and since STEM was just beginning to gain real traction in my area I was given complete discretion on how I spent my initial budget. I spent every dime within a week, and then needed to go back for more money because I forgot to buy a service contract on a piece of equipment.
I had no plan for HOW I was going to use the technology, and in some cases no idea how to use it either. The struggles I went through as I was figuring everything out are a big part of why I decided to start this blog. In here you will certainly find lots of curriculum ideas, units, and instructions on High Tech topics like 3D Printing, Robotics, Coding, and Model Rocketry to help you figure out what to do before you buy anything, but we’ll also cover Low Tech STEM in case you don’t have the budget for the fancy stuff.
By no means do you need to have the most whiz bang LASER cutting, flying, robotic 3D printer on the market in order to teach Superstar STEM. In fact, some of my most successful lessons were taught using nothing more than the contents of a recycling bin, and some masking tape. Don’t forget that MaGyver had nothing more than some Duct Tape, and a Swiss Army knife, and he did just fine!